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Ethiop [William J. Wilson] to Frederick Douglass, February 4, 1853


DEAR DOUGLASS:—When I last wrote you the intensity of the cold was sufficient to pinch ones nose off; now as I write, the softest tints of mildness blend themselves around me. It is one of those days that tapers off the gentle spring into summer; and seems quite out of place at this time.—Things seem quite tranquil in Gotham, at present, so much so, that only the subject of slavery is passing through my mind just now. Let me mention here one of the latest incidents connected with it. White slaves and Black slaves, and slaves of all sorts fill this part of creation. Black slaves work by compulsion; but it is only bodily labor, white ones are ordered to the mental field by their masters to grovel there. Here the lowest debasement awaits them. Here they are compelled to prostitute whatever talents they may possess; lend freely their services to every species of iniquity; subserve, however great, any enormity, the only prize being the grasp of the accursed dollar. These white slaves have their origin in the lowest scale of humanity-in distant and dirty corners of the earth. They come from the common herd, and are to be found everywhere, in cities, in towns, in bar-rooms, in steam boats and on rail-cars, in Legislative Halls, in lecture rooms, at the bar, and on the bench, and even with their polluted feet in pulpits. They are political whippers-in, negro-drivers and traders, scribblers for satanic presses, caterers-up of the filth and scum for the low herd, and nice pap for their masters. So debased are they that they are prepared for any bidding, dogs for all dirty work. They will crawl in gutters and through filthy holes. They will down upon their knees, and lick their master’s hand as he dictates his orders, and then on all fours crawl out of his presence, not daring to encounter his contemptuous gaze. They rarely spring up in the same soil with their masters; rather, they don’t spring up at all, they are ordered out from the vulgar herd. They come sometimes in the shape of a renegade Scot a despicable Englishman, a wretched, unprincipled Irishman, a contemptible puppy of a Frenchman, or what is more common, a mean doe-faced Northerner. They give existence to every monstrosity of the age; such for instance as the New York Heralds, Fugitive Slave Bills, Atherton gags, African colonies, Cuba invasions, Haytien subjugation schemes. Books and prints, spurious Uncle Tom’s Cabins, and all sorts of silly and flippant letters to bolster up the slave system, of which they are the most misera-


ble emanations. The last of these beings, that has floated upon the surface is a Mrs. Tyler, once of Long Island, now of some forest in old Virginia, and the last specimen of the monstrosities is a dirty bantling of hers in the shape of a letter. Old John Tyler, once an accidental President of the United States, known to do many a foolish thing, married, in his dotage this one of his wives, from the north of Mason and Dixon’s line, even from the utmost point of old Long Island; and for this piece of folly, he has been compelled to compel her to mother this bantling and hold it up to the public gaze, as a counterpoise to the very mild, yet timely and just “remonstrance of the noble women of England to the women of America upon the subject of slavery.” Of all the families of the blood South, not a woman could be found to give existence to this dirty thing.—No, these are the mistresses; and since it must eminate from the south side, some white slave there must be found for the task; and who but this Mrs. Tyler, by birth and education first, and secondly by position, was fitted for it. Conceived in ignorance, spleen virulence and folly, this bantling brat has come forth, but strangled in its conception, it is as harmless as it is pointless. Of the whole affair, and Mrs. Tyler’s connexion with it, it presents to the mind something like the following: “Judy McCan and her associates are brought up before the Court for stealing.—Now Judy [exceedingly voluble] who at the mild remonstrance of the Court, steps out from the ranks, and vomits forth all the Billingsgate conceivable at Judge, Jury and all-branding them as thieves, murderers, villains, and threatening to arrest the whole possee, as such if they do not mind their own business, without once denying the theft with which they are charged, and upon whom it is clearly proven, nay, even sticking out from beneath the ample folds of her blue cloak, at the very moment of the charge.”
Oh Judy Tyler! Judy Tyler Oh!!
Tell, my dear Douglass, the noble women of England that the American slave system is the greatest enormity under heaven, and that 3,000,000 of human beings with uplifted but manacled hands are unceasingly pleading with them for whatever relief they can afford them and will ever plead. Tell these noble women, that these poor depressed sons of earth will some day yet look up from their toil to bless them.
Yours truly,
BROOKLYN HEIGHTS Feb. 4th, 1853.


Ethiop (William J. Wilson)


February 4, 1853


Ethiop [William J. Wilson] to Frederick Douglass. PLSr: Frederick DouglassP, 18 February 1853. Misidentifies former First Lady Julia Tyler who recently had published a letter to the “Dutchess of Sutherland and the Ladies of England,” defending the practice of slavery in America.


This document was calendared in the published volume and has not been published in full before.


Frederick Douglass' Paper



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